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EU Censorship News


2021: July-Sept

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Macron conspires to turn France into an authoritarian state...

As he sets up a commission targeting conspiracy theorists


Link Here 30th September 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection
French president Emmanuel Macron has been slammed after he set up a commission to fight conspiracy theories which critics have labelled the thought police. He said he believes conspiracy theories are a poison to French society. Members will include 15 academics, as well as journalists, teachers and lawyers.

Macron has asked them to produce a report on topics including how to prevent internet algorithms enslaving society, how advertisers exploit fake news and how to prevent foreign rival powers from spreading information.

Macron said in a TV interview that conspiracy theories are a key problem for France which is battling the perspective that all views are equal, that those of someone who is not a specialist but who has an opinion on the coronavirus are just as valid as those of a scientist.

But Francois-Bernard Huyghe, a political scientist at the Institute for International and Strategic Affairs in Paris, has slammed Mr Macron's new commission. He said:

I don't think that multiplying laws, censoring social media accounts or treating people as cretins is the solution. It provokes the opposite effect to the one desired and the feeling that something is being hidden.

 

 

Dangerous tech...

Germany investigates Xiaomi phones over Lithuanian claims that they have built in censorship features


Link Here30th September 2021
The Lithuanian government has recommended that its citizens throw away Chinese smartphones , singling out devices from Xiaomi Corp for their censorship capabilities.

Last week, a report by the Lithuanian defence ministry's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) alleged that Xiaomi's Mi 10T 5G smartphone, which is widely sold in Europe, has a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as Free Tibet, Long live Taiwan independence or democracy movement.

The function at the centre of that report is supposedly advertising management software, which is used to shield users from ontent including pornography, violence and hate speech. According to a Xiaomi spokesman, such censorship tools are common in the smartphone and internet industry worldwide.

 

 

Opaque rules...

The Hungarian Government orders book shops to sell gay and sexy books in opaque covers


Link Here7th August 2021
  The Hungarian Government has ordered shops to wrap children's books that depict homosexuality in a positive light in closed packaging as the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban fights against gay rights.

Under a government decree, stores will also be banned from selling books seen as containing explicit depictions of sexuality or narratives around gender change within a 200 meter radius of schools or churches. The rules similarly outlaw displays of products that depict gender roles that are different from an individual's gender at birth.

The latest steps come a month after Hungary introduced a law banning the dissemination of LGBTQ+ content in schools.

The European Commission has filed legal proceedings against Hungary claiming the rules violate the right to freedom of expression and information.

 

 

Taking offence at German censorship...

Google has announced legal action against the German government for demanding that social media companies hand over person details of users accused of hate speech


Link Here28th July 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Google has announced that it was taking legal action over Germany's expanded hate-speech legislation which took effect in April this year.

In a blog post Google said that a new provision of Germany's Network Enforcement Act ('NetzDG') violates the right to privacy of its users. The provision requires social media platforms to share with law enforcement personal details of those sharing content suspected to be hateful.

Germany's NetzDG law came into effect in early 2018, making social networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter responsible for monitoring and removing hate content from their platforms. It also required digital platforms to publish regular reports on their compliance.

In May 2021, the country's parliament passed legislation to include new provisions in the law to broaden its application, including sharing details of those judged to have shared hate-filled content with the Federal police, a move that was criticised as being heavy-handed by opposition parties and the European Commission, as well as by social media companies themselves.

Sabine Frank, YouTube's regional head of public policy, wrote in the blog post:

In our opinion, this massive interference with the rights of our users is not only in conflict with data protection, but also with the German constitution and European law.

Google believes that such massive sharing of users' personal data with law enforcement is only possible after a detailed examination by a court and a judicial confirmation.

For us, the protection of our users' data is a central concern. We have therefore decided to have the relevant obligations of the legislative package examined by the Cologne Administrative Court as part of a declaratory action.

 

 

Age of censorship...

European age verification consortium starts meetings


Link Here15th July 2021
euConsent is a consortium of twelve pro-censorship academic institutions, campaigners and technology providers championing internet age verification in the name of child protection. The consortium is being funded by the EU Commission to design, deliver and pilot a new Europe-wide system age/iD verification system and to ensure that younger children have parental consent before they share personal data.

The consortium doesn't seem to have much interest in keeping adults safe from their ID and porn viewing data being used by scammers, spammers, thieves, commercial exploiters and of course state authorities.

Pro-censorship campaigner and chair of the consortium John Carr has now announced that the group has had its first meeting. He noted:

An Advisory Board has been established and I agreed to be its Chair. The Board comprises representatives of a wide range of stakeholders: European regulatory authorities, children's rights organizations, tech companies and politicians. We held our inaugural meeting last Friday.

[notice no mention of porn viewers or adult internet users].

The Board will hold the project team accountable, helping them as they establish the standards. The Board's collective and individual insights will contribute to a system that is workable with existing technology and facilitates the creation and implementation of effective regulations. Any new technologies which may emerge will know what they must be able to do if they are to be recognised as an acceptable tool.

 

 

Charged if you do, fined if you don't...

Google opts out of displaying paid for snippets to French newspapers only to be fined for 'market abuse' in not being fair to those newspapers


Link Here12th July 2021
Full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
The EU red tape generation machine has become so entangle that most of the EU's latest internet laws are simply impossible to comply with.

The latest example is that search engines are nominally forced to negotiate with newspapers to agree a charge to pay for links to newspaper websites. However it now appears that French law means that newspapers can ask ask any price they like and the French authorities will fine search engines that don't agree the price.

Google has been hit with a euro 500m (£427m) fine by France's competition authority for failing to negotiate in good faith with news organisations over the use of their content.

In 2019, France became the first EU country to transpose the EU's disgraceful new Digital Copyright Directive into law. The law governed so-called neighbouring rights which are designed to compensate publishers and news agencies for the use of their material.

As a result, Google decided it would not show content from EU publishers in France, on services like search and news, unless publishers agreed to let them do so free of charge.

News organisations felt this was an abuse of Google's market power, and two organisations representing press publishers and Agence France-Presse (AFP) complained to the competition authority.

Google told the BBC: We are very disappointed with this decision - we have acted in good faith throughout the entire process.

The new ruling means that within the next two months Google must come up with proposals explaining how it will recompense companies for the use of their news. Should this fail to happen the company could face additional fines of euro 900,000 per day.

 

 

The EU 'earmarks' its copyright on bad law...

The EU publishes guidance on its impossible to implement copyright directive requiring both automatic blocking of copyrighted material for bad reasons whilst allowing it for good reasons


Link Here10th July 2021
Full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
A while ago the EU passed a copyright directive demanding that internet businesses, websites and social media automatically block the upload of unauthorised copyrighted material whilst simultaneously demanding that this should not impinge on the free speech use of material in terms of memes or comment.

Of course the subtlety of distinguishing between differing usages is way beyond the AI capabilities of most EU businesses and so is more or less impossible to implement. Now EU states are getting confused on how to implement the directive in their national law.

And even though June 7 was the initial deadline for member-countries to implement it, it is far from being settled from the point of view of the harm it can cause to free online expression in the bloc.

The tortuous EU legislative process reached a milestone on June 4, when the European Commission revealed guidelines to its 27 members on how to implement Article 17, while protecting online users rights. And while the document , that is not legally binding, states that filtering should only apply to what are clear-cut cases of illegal content, it also ushers in what advocates see as a massive loophole.

It refers to giving rights holders the ability to 'earmark' content, which could end up in platforms censoring it, including in cases of fair use. Content that according to the European Commission may be earmarked as economically viable is a new term in the realm of copyright enforcement, and there are fears that it may be little more than a synonym for censorship.

Some EU member states have not given up on their legal challenge to the Directive, with Poland going to the Court of Justice of the European Union and naming the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union as defendants in a case seeking to establish if Article 17 is aligned with the bloc's Charter of Fundamental Rights. Poland is seeking partial, or full annulment of the article. The ruling is expected on July 15.

 

 

Germany vs xHamster...

The authorities are trying to block notable porn sites


Link Here2nd July 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
The German media censor, the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media, wants to force the hosting provider of the porn website xHamster to lock out German users.

A year ago, the State Agency for Media in North Rhine-Westphalia began to issue porn portals such as PornHub with an ultimatum: Either they establish age verification systems or there is a threat of network blocking.

Several proceedings are currently pending at the Dusseldorf Administrative Court are being contested by porn companies who argue that they label their websites according to an international standard designed to make it easy for parents to block offers on their children's devices.

However, German legislation takes the opposite approach: Portals that are harmful to minors should only be accessible if the users are proved to be of legal age. Tobias Schmid, the director of the State Agency for Media in North Rhine-Westphalian, said:

In the end it is very simple: Anyone who wants to earn money with pornography in the German market has to adhere to German laws.

The agency has now been able to determine the hosting provider for xHamster. This is not trivial, as many porn portals disguise their IT infrastructure with the help of cloud services. The media censor has now written an official to the web host.


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